Browns Fire Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods After 3 Seasons | lifestyle

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Joe Woods took the fall for the Cleveland Browns falling again.

Cleveland fired its embattled defensive coordinator on Monday after his group’s communication issues and inability to stop the run played a major role in the Browns finishing 7-10 and missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

Woods, 52, was one of Kevin Stefanski’s first hires in 2020. Cleveland’s defense has struggled since the opening game, leading to the Browns’ 17th season with double-digit losses since the franchise was reborn in 1999.

Widely criticized for his performance, Stefanski was spared in a season shaped by the 11-game suspension of NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson.

“I would like to thank Joe for his hard work and dedication in three seasons as our defensive coordinator,” Stefanski said. “I will always have the utmost respect for Joe, the person and the coach.

“Unfortunately we haven’t performed to our standards this season and we all share that responsibility.”

The Browns quickly found a replacement and requested permission to interview New England linebackers coach Jerod May and Pittsburgh Steelers assistant Brian Flores for the vacancy.

Mayo, 36, played eight seasons with the Patriots before retiring after the 2015 season. Flores was Miami’s head coach from 2019-21 before being fired. He sued the NFL for racial discrimination.

Woods has been under fire all season and felt his release last week when he told reporters, “I hope I get to talk to you again,” as he left his weekly news conference.

With Woods in charge, Cleveland’s defense, while talented on paper, did not produce.

The Browns have been especially vulnerable against the run, getting hammered for big plays on the ground almost every week as teams switch to a proven formula.

Woods has never shied away from responsibility or made excuses, despite having plenty of injuries, especially at center back.

Starters Anthony Walker Jr., Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jacob Phillips and Sione Takitaki all suffered season-ending injuries that forced Woods to play on inexperienced quarterbacks and general manager Andrew Berry to bring in outside help.

The Browns’ pass defense collapsed at the end of the week in a loss to the New York Jets, who rallied for 13 points in the final two minutes.

The problem resurfaced in Sunday’s 28-14 loss at Pittsburgh when Steelers rookie Kenny Picket threw a touchdown pass to a wide-open George Pickens with Cleveland’s defensive backs confused in coverage.

Woods also had to deal with star defensive end Myles Garrett, who played most of the season injured with a dislocated shoulder suffered in a car accident in September. Woods’ final week included defensive end Jadeveon Clowney being sent home after criticizing the organization and coaching staff.

Clowney was inactive in the Finals and did not make the trip to Pittsburgh.

Cleveland’s defense improved during the second half of the season, but there wasn’t enough growth to save Woods.


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